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Shoe thrown at Iranian president Ahmadinejad in Egypt
Last Updated : 06 Feb 2013 03:55:29 PM IST
Egypt's top cleric tells Ahmadinejad not to interfere in Gulf states


A shoe was thrown at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he visited an ancient mosque in downtown Cairo.Egyptian security guards seized a man who tried to hit Ahmadinejad with a shoe .

A video of the incident shows a man shouting "coward" before striking out. It is not clear what the motive was – some reports suggested it was against Iran's support for Syria's government. Ahmadinejad was forced to flee after the incident.

Later, anti-Iranian protesters raised their shoes up while blocking the main gates to Al-Azhar, the Sunni world's most prestigious religious institution, where Egypt's most prominent cleric chided Ahmadinejad for interfering in the affairs of Sunni nations.
Egypt's top cleric tells Ahmadinejad not to interfere in Gulf states

  Egypt's top cleric  Ahmed al-Tayyeb told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not to interfere in the affairs of Bahrain or other Gulf states and to uphold the rights of his country's Sunni minority.

 Ahmadinejad, the first Iranian president to visit Egypt in more than 30 years, was given a red-carpet welcome by Islamist President Mohamed Mursi yesterday at the start of his landmark visit but was later chided by the top Sunni cleric.

Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the grand imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, also denounced what he described as the "spread of Shiism in Sunni lands".

 Tayyeb, who made the remarks in a statement after meeting Ahmadinejad, demanded "the Iranian president respect Bahrain
as a brotherly Arab nation, and not interfere in the affairs of Gulf states".

He also said Ahmadinejad must uphold the rights of his Shiite-ruled country's Sunni minority. In October, Bahrain summoned an Iranian envoy to protest against Tehran's "interference" in the Gulf state's internal affairs. Iran has supported protests by Bahrain's Shiite majority against the Sunni monarchy.

Following yesterday's meeting, Ahmadinejad gave a news conference at Al-Azhar in which he said he "came from Iran to say that Egypt and the Egyptian people have their place in the heart of the Iranian people".

 "I hope this visit will be a new beginning for solidarity between our two people," he said.But senior Al-Azhar cleric Hassan al-Shafie, who spoke after Ahmadinejad, launched into a tirade against "some Shiites" for insulting some of the Prophet Mohammed's companions as the Iranian president listened with noticeable unease.

"The discussions were frank," Shafie said of Ahmadinejad's meeting with Tayyeb.Shiites revile some of the Prophet Mohammed's companions they accuse of usurping power from his cousin Ali, whom they believe was designated as his rightful heir.

Sunnis view this position as heresy, but Al-Azhar had traditionally taken an ecumenical stance on Shiites.  But the Sunni institute has adopted a much harsher tone in the past year, accusing Shiites of trying to spread their doctrine in Egypt and even issuing a statement that used a pejorative term for Shiites -- rafidah, or rejectionists.

 Al-Azhar's hardened stance is thought in part to stem from the increased pressure of more conservative Salafi clerics, who share doctrines of Saudi Arabia's interpretation of Sunni Islam.

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